Although trees can live for hundreds of years, they do come and go. At Calvary, trees are an important landscape feature. They are tended with care, especially the stately cedars. Sadly, last week one of the patriarchs of the cemetery had to be removed.Continue reading
It’s hard to think about the holidays without remembering Christmas past and
departed loved ones.
If you’d like to decorate a loved one’s grave with some holiday color, Calvary Cemetery is now taking orders for Christmas wreaths. Ordered wreaths will be placed on graves the week of Thanksgiving and will be removed after New Year’s Day (weather permitting).
These 25-inch wreaths are Balsam Fir and feature a red bow with white-tipped pinecones.
To order your wreath for $25, call Terry Miller at 507.995.1010.
Left to right: Deb Boesch, Becky Shouts and DeeAnn Wacker sing during the WOH ceremony.
Cold fall weather and leaden gray skies did not stop mourning families from attending the Wings of Hope “Evening of Remembrance” ceremony Tuesday evening as 57 people gathered at Calvary Cemetery to say “goodbye” to children recently lost during pregnancy.
The warmth of the ceremony, led by Chaplain Kathy Blair, and musically decorated by Deb Boesch, Becky Shouts and DeeAnn Wacker, helped deter the cold. The mourners, some wrapped in blankets against the chill, sang and prayed.
A special highlight to the ceremony was the recitation of an original poem by DeeAnn Wacker entitled “Light of My Soul.”
“These children we remember today have gone to their rest in the peace of Christ. May the Lord now welcome them to the table of God’s children in Heaven. With faith and hope in eternal life, let us assist them with our prayers. Let us pray to the Lord also for ourselves. May we who mourn be reunited one day with our children; together may we meet Christ Jesus when he who is our life appears in glory,” said Chaplain Blair in the opening prayer.
More information on Wings of Hope is available at their website.
Father Tim Reker and Deacon John Rudd from St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church carried on undeterred by the light but cold rainfall. About 15 people took part in the ceremony, and live music was provided.
Wings of Hope hosts burial services for children lost during pregnancy. A special section of the cemetery was developed and dedicated for this purpose recently — articles about the WOH site development and dedication are available on this blog.
The Wings of Hope website is located at http://www.wingsofhopemankato.com.
“We had 70% of the roads open right after that last snowfall,” said Terry. “And we lost some tree branches. Over a foot of snow has fallen and obviously more on the way.”
“Just when I think I am getting some traction — by that I mean snow gone and spring clean up going on — along comes another storm. A year ago we were mowing. With Memorial Day just six weeks away, I believe it’s going to be ‘go time’ when this white stuff is gone.”
Of course, Memorial Day is the biggest day of the year at Calvary in terms of visitors and activity.
Terry also reports the frost is still deep in shady areas and the north side of buildings where the spring sunshine hasn’t warmed the ground or melted the snow cover.
The combination of no snow cover and numbing subzero has dropped the frost down 16 inches deep. That basically turns the ground to stone-like hardness, making it necessary to heat a site for 24 hours prior to excavation.
Today’s forecast for snow has him hopeful.
“I still wish we would get a good foot of snow. Not only would it keep the frost from going down further, it would maybe take some out,” he said.
The threat of a blizzard has closed Mankato area schools today. That forecast could well bring the snow Terry is hoping for.
Bitter cold makes for tough working conditions at a cemetery. Machinery has to be kept running longer to keep it starting reliably, and the frozen ground means three hours of prep and 24 hours of heating added to the normal excavation work load.
“But I will say the auger we purchased a few years ago is great. The carbide blades will go through approximately one inch of frost per minute,” he explained.
We all remember from one Christmas to the next. That first Christmas with the new baby. That last Christmas with a grandparent. We remember our little traditions, sometimes handed down from parents and grandparents, or even those from the lands our great-great-great grandparents came from.
Christmas Present gets its savor from Christmas Past. It is our most celebrated and revered season. And those seasons we remember and remember each December, ever measuring this year’s vintage against the treasured tastes of bygone yules.
In that savoring, it is hard not to remember those no longer with us while we sit around our festive holiday tables. That favorite great aunt, treasured grandparent or especially close cousin…we see glimpses of them laughing by the fireplace or see a special ornament of theirs on this year’s tree.
But the sharpest stabs of nostalgia, the ones so painfully poignant, come from the absence of parents, children, brothers, sisters or spouses…those we once shared each day with in bouts of triumph, sickness, chores and just the ebb and flow of daily life.
Christmas has the power for great joy but also for great sorrow.
As we celebrate the Birth of Our Savior this day, remember that His sacrifice at the original Calvary conquered eternal death. We hope your memories of Christmas Past bring you joy this season.
That’s one of the messages that Calvary Caretaker Terry Miller shared with Catholic cemetery caretakers and board members from across the diocese during workshops held this month.
Although there are over 100 Catholic cemeteries in the 20 southern Minnesota counties that encompass the Winona Diocese, Terry is one of the few full-time, professional caretakers. On average the other cemeteries in the diocese average 3.2 burials per year while Calvary averages close to 100 per year. While there are some larger cemeteries in the diocese, Calvary is the largest in terms of acreage under maintenance.
Because of his experience, Terry was invited to be one of the speakers at the workshops, and appeared in Adrian and Owatonna to share his views. He was also accompanied by one of the Calvary board members, Father Tim Reker, pastor of St. Joseph the Worker parish.
Attendees consisted mainly of cemetery caretakers, volunteers and clergy.
Terry shared the tactics that he and his board have advanced at Calvary in order to ensure “perpetual care” of the cemetery for future generations. Topics included pricing, board involvement and advocacy, community and parish support, the use of social media, client service, and fundraising.
Terry reported that his sharing was well received.
“No doubt, cemeteries are about the past,” he said after the events. “But a big part of taking care of yesterday is about looking out for tomorrow. You know what I mean?”
Calvary Cemetery Chapel will be the site for a special All Souls Day Mass to be held
on Thursday, November 2nd at 9 a.m.
Father Paul van de Crommert of North Mankato’s Holy Rosary Catholic Church will be the celebrant. Father Paul is also actively serving on the cemetery’s board of directors.
Confused about All Souls Day, All Saints Day and Halloween?
The Catholic Church celebrates All Saints Day, or All Hallows, on the first day of November each year. Therefore the last day of October is All Hallows Eve, or Halloween (a contraction of “All Hallows Evening). November 2nd is All Souls Day. According to Catholic Online (www.catholiconline.org), here is the difference in the celebrations:
In Western Christian theology, the day [All Saints Day] commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. It is a national holiday in many historically Catholic countries. In the Roman Catholic Church, the next day, All Souls’ Day, specifically commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached heaven. Catholics celebrate All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day in the fundamental belief that there is a prayerful spiritual communion between those in the state of grace who have died and are either being purified in purgatory or are in heaven (the ‘church penitent’ and the ‘church triumphant’, respectively), and the ‘church militant’ who are the living. Other Christian traditions define, remember and respond to the saints in different ways.
Halloween is not a religious celebration in the Catholic Church. It is a popular celebration revolving around the theme of using humor to confront the power of death.
The service will be led by Pastor Dave Laughlin from New Creation Church. Music will be provided by Kevin Torbenson. The public is invited to attend.
The service format will be similar to past events. However, there will be a lighting of candles at the end of this service because October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.
Wings of Hope is a Mankato-based organization dedicated to helping families cope with the loss of children during pregnancy or during childbirth. The WOH Memorial at Calvary serves as a place for quarterly services as well as the final resting place for those lost children.